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Annecy To Host First-Ever Women In Animation World Summit

Women in Animation (WIA), and its younger French sister organization, Les Femmes s’Animent (LFA), together with various corporate partners (including The Walt Disney Studios) and French organizations, are putting together the first Women in Animation World Summit, set to take place next month at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival in France.

Scheduled for the festival’s first day, Monday, June 12, at the Impérial Palace Hotel (Rotonde Room), the summit is a day-long symposium of panels and discussions exploring a wide range of topics related to the growing role of women within the industry, especially on the creative side where women artists are systemically underrepresented. “Our big focus for this year is on recognizing and understanding unconscious bias, an achievement which will help everyone work together towards WIA’s goal of bringing equity to creative leadership in our industry by 2025,” said WIA co-president Marge Dean.

“Annecy has always been a place of debate and exchange,” said Mickael Marin, the head of Annecy’s business market MIFA, “and we are proud to support and welcome such great dialogue during the first-ever Women in Animation World Summit at MIFA. Our support of this initiative carries on from our festival theme of honoring women in 2015, and the two years of rich collaborations with WIA and LFA that have followed.”

Here is the line-up of talks:

9:30am -10:30am — Exploring Unconscious Bias
Julie Ann Crommett (vice president of multicultural audience engagement at the Walt Disney Studios and WIA chair of industry relations) will present an introduction to the topic of “Unconscious Bias.” Julie Ann will be introduced by WIA co-president, Marge Dean.

10:30am – 12:00pm — 50/50 by 2025 – How Are We Getting There?
Lindsay Nadler (director, human resources, Walt Disney Animation Studios) will lead a discussion with top industry filmmakers and executives such as Jinko Gotoh (producer, Warner Animation Group and WIA secretary), Alison Mann (vice president of talent, Illumination Entertainment), Corinne Kouper (director of development of TeamTo and president, Les Femmes s’Animent), and Lindsay Watson (animation producer, Canuk Productions Ltd. and president, Animated Women UK) on how to reach WIA’s goal of 50/50 gender balance in creative leadership roles within the animation industry by 2025.

2:00pm – 3:00pm — Artist Experience
Moderated by Karen Dufilho (executive producer, Google Spotlight Stories), this panel will feature artists from all areas of the animation industry – features, TV, shorts, gaming, vr/ar – such as Dorota Kobiela (co-director, Loving Vincent), Jorge Gutierrez (writer/director, ReelFX), Wendy Rogers (vfx Supervisor/creative executive, Cirrina Studios), Céline Sciamma (writer/director), and Xin Yu (CEO & creative director of Shanghai Left Pocket Studio) talking about their experiences in the current animation community.

3:00pm – 4:30pm — Developing Diverse Stories
Moderated by Julie Ann Crommett, this panel featuring Jessica Julius (creative executive, Walt Disney Animation Studios), Emilie Blezat (Studio Canal China), and Melissa Cobb (head of studio and chief creative officer, Oriental DreamWorks) will be a discussion about developing projects and telling cultural stories with authenticity.

In addition to the symposium, Les Femmes s’Animent will host a series of informal breakfast discussions open to all festival attendees. These events will take place Tuesday-Friday, June 13-16, from 8:30-10:00am at the Brasserie du Parc (12 Rue Centrale, 74940 Annecy-le-Vieux). A new topic will be discussed each day:

Tuesday, June 13th
Women Directors in Annecy: Highlighted speakers include Léa Krawczyk (À Perdre Haleine), Katrin Rothe (1917 – Der Wahre Oktober), Anne Magnussen (The Man Who Knew 75 Languages), and Lucrèce Andreae (Pépé le Morse).

Wednesday, June 14th
Women in the Chinese Animation Industry: Highlighted speakers include Jie Chen (producer, Big Fish & Begonia), Xin Yu (CEO & creative director of Shanghai Left Pocket Studio), Monica Huang (producer), and Chao Wu (Annecy jury for student films films).

Thursday, June 15th
The Women of My Life as A Zucchini and The Man Woman Case: Highlighted speakers include crew of My Life As A Zuchini: Armelle Giorennec (producer), Marianne Chazelas (first assistant director), Kim Keukeleire (director of animation), Christel Grandchamp (costume designer), and Vanessa Riera (costume designer); and crew of The Man Woman Case: Joëlle Oosterlinck (scriptwriter), Anaïs Caura (writer/director), and Hélène Gendronneau (producer).

Friday, June 16th
Engaged & Emerging Filmmakers dialogue with Bonnie Arnold: Highlighted speakers include Bonnie Arnold (president, DreamWorks Animation), Anca Damian (director, Crulic, The Magic Mountain), Iryna Kostyuk (producer, Mavka, the Forest Song), Eléa Gobbé-Mévellec (co-director, The Swallows of Kabul), and Dorota Kobiela (co-director, Loving Vincent).

  • Farook Bulsara

    Why does there need to be a 50/50 gender balance in one select section of one larger industry? And if there isn’t, are we to assume there is a bias? Well gee, how long did it take to think up THAT premise? 15 seconds? 20?
    Men gravitate towards different careers – and SO DO WOMEN. Is there a gender bias because 99% of plumbers are men? Is there a gender bias in producers of animation?Lets look at what animated movies were produced by women in 2016:
    Finding Dory,
    The Secret Life of Pets,
    Sausage Party,
    Kung Fu Panda 3,
    Angry Birds,
    Ice Age Collision Course,
    & My Life as a Zucchini

    ^So basically ALL OF THEM.
    (And all of those producers are the best at what they do)

    Men and women are different you know. They gravitate towards different careers. In broad strokes, women are much more proficient in dealing with people and men are much more proficient in dealing with things/tools. Thats what we’ve culled from anthropology, psychology, sociology and evolution. So there will be a disparity of genders in many careers. Its NOT going to be a 50/50 split on all of them. Those that do have a 50/50 split are going to be the exception and not the norm.

    We should all be vigilant of sexism or discrimination in the workforce, but the narrative that a 50/50 split in select careers is a goal that justifies itself is just post modernist idiocy. It is replacing a meritocracy with simplistic bean counting. Whats next? Is there going to be a racial balance? And if there isn’t, does that mean that gender is more important than race? What about a balance for those that are disabled? Or then there should be a religious balance too right?
    Its almost like the people who put this together weren’t thinking….

    • Just to follow-up on your thinking; if women are much more proficient in dealing with people, how come animation has so little female directors (or supervisors, for that matter)? Directing, just like producing, is essentially dealing with people full-time.

    • Alec Fredericks

      You’re right, Farook, that the movies cited have women producers and these are great success stories. The role of producer, though, represents just a tiny number of jobs in the animated film industry. Walk into any animation or VFX house and you’ll see that there are a LOT more men than women (except in HR and marketing). The answer as to why is complex, but one aspect could certainly be bias that exists both in the workplace as well as the education system. Again, it’s complex and I’m not knowledgeable enough to delve deeply into it, but we do need to recognize the need to stay vigilant against gender bias not only in job placement, but to also ensure pay equity when women do get their dream jobs. Supporting groups like Women in Animation is one way we can continue to show our solidarity.

    • JordanNVFX

      “Its almost like the people who put this together weren’t thinking…”

      You’ve typed up an argument, however, there is something fundamental you are not understanding.

      You wonder why does there have to be a gender balance, or a racial balance? Would you admit that historically, women and people of color, have been ostracized and not given an equal chance in life? Or you try and suggest that it must be evolutionary reasons why men/women go for careers, yet the impact of forced gender roles goes against this (i.e if women are encouraged to be caretakers and nothing else, how can you deduce they don’t want to be engineers if they were never given the chance?).

      How would you suggest fixing this? Your dream of meritocracy isn’t factoring we still live in a world where in society white males hold the most power and thus, even if you’re most skilled black women, you’re still at a disadvantage just based off someone having a different skin color than you.

      Rather than get upset, I encourage you to put in more research as to why progressives are fighting to put equality in the workplace. And then reflect that equality isn’t actually a bad thing.

    • A Stranger in the Alps

      I feel like most of this has already been responded to, but to one of your first questions, yes, it is a gender bias if 99% of plumbers are men, and reflects both a tendency not to encourage (or even to actively discourage) women from entering the trades, broader societal expectations, and workplace cultures that can be downright hostile to women.

      And even if you feel 50/50 is an unfair standard to meet (which I disagree with), can you honestly look at the state of major animated features over the last… entire history of the industry and say that there isn’t a gender bias in favour of men? So far this decade, 95% of major animated features have been directed solely by men, 4% have been co-directed by men and women, and a single feature was solely directed by a woman. The world of indie animation shows that there are plenty of talented female directors out there, so it isn’t an issue of no one being out there. It is about as clear a picture of systemic bias as you can get.

      • Farook Bulsara

        [Comment removed by editors. Per our commenting guidelines, “Don’t hijack threads by responding to everyone else’s comments…”]